For this couple, it’s not about being minimalist in style. It’s about living with less. Discover how making small steps towards this lifestyle has created a happier space and mindset.
What do you need to be happy?
When Julia and André moved into their apartment eight months ago, this question became a mantra. Their new space offered high ceilings that created a sense of space that was tempting to use up. “We’re not looking to make the room full, or have our things become a burden,” says Julia. “I started by paring back and noticed how much better it was to have less, and the feeling began to spread.”
Decide what’s important
The couple’s approach isn’t about stripping back completely. They found that owning less helped them to focus on the things that improved their quality of life. “For me, it’s plants. They have a calming effect,” says Julia. “And propagating them has turned into a hobby – I bring a small cutting as a gift to every party I go to!”
Invest in key pieces
Choosing key pieces for their living space was about getting it right, first time. The KIVIK sofa was brought from their previous flat and their mid-century sideboard purchased after months of searching. The statement monochrome rug (a favourite spot for their dog, Nala) came later. “Since moving here, we’ve never bought anything we weren’t sure of,” says Julia.
Define comfort vs clutter
“People are afraid of losing things, because they think they’ll lose their comfort,” says André. “But actually, there’s just so much stuff you don’t need. Do you go into your basement or attic to discover things that you haven’t used or needed in the last five years? Find the motivation to get the stuff out and sell it or give it to someone who will use it.”
Entering the dining room, there are two things that strike you; the beauty of vast, bare walls, and a long wooden table that owns the space. A hero piece. “We set out to find a dining table and found this pre-loved IKEA one online,” says Julia. “It proves you can still be specific when shopping second-hand. This was exactly what we needed, and leaves a smaller carbon footprint than buying new.”
“I’m not someone who changes radically. It’s easier to feel good about taking things step by step. Now I’m happy that I can say no to beautiful things that we don’t need.”
Make time for better habits
“We’ve just started using an app that connects food market sellers with residents who can sort and pick up food that would otherwise be wasted. Using these ingredients, especially seasonal vegetables that we’ve sometimes never even heard of, makes for a more thoughtful meal. Putting in extra effort encourages us to eat together at the table, rather than the sofa,” says Julia.
Open up your storage
Open shelves run the length of one wall in the kitchen. “We don’t need much storage in the other rooms because we don’t have enough stuff to put inside it! But I love open shelves, and the kitchen is one of the only places to warrant it,” says Julia. As well as its look, the couple find another upside to open shelving is being able to see what you have, so you’re less likely to overbuy.
“Living consciously is becoming more popular. But I don’t like the idea of it becoming a trend, because that suggests that it’s temporary. These are choices we’re making for our future.”
Adapt your space to your needs
The couple’s bedroom needs to fulfil different functions, yet still feel calm and organised. To ensure that sleep is the focus, their self-built mezzanine bed has nothing but a mattress, cosy linens and a small collection of books. Below is their clothes storage and home office, with a dual sit-stand desk. “I’m digitising all of my paperwork to keep my workspace clearer,” says André.
“I use Instagram to talk about the changes we’ve made. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I enjoy sharing our story and hope that someone can take something positive away from it.”
A ground-floor flat in the city
Julia and André’s rental apartment was a rare find. The only trade-off was the renovation it required. “Old buildings with period features are sought-after in Düsseldorf,” says Julia. “The condition of ours was bad, but we imagined its potential. Every room needed work, so all of our friends got behind us to help.” Their home now has the hallway at the centre, and each room branching off from it.
We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.
Interior stylist: Carl Braganza
Photographer: Nato Welton
Follow Julia on Instagram: @juloxyy